Week Three in the Sun Belt was a disappointing one for the conference. In seven out-of-conference games, the Sun Belt won just two of them. Both of those wins were against FCS opponents. Nevertheless, Conference play began this week and we were treated to a pair of quality of games.
Appalachian State 20
Texas State 13
The Mountaineers traveled to San Marcos as heavy favorites against the Bobcats. Appalachian State got more than it bargained for, however, falling in a 10-0 hole in the first half. Bobcat quarterback Damion Williams found receiver Mason Hays on a 49 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Texas State then added a field goal in the second. The Mountaineers were able to strike just before the half ended with a six yard touchdown from Taylor Lamb to Thomas Hennigan.
Appalachian State tied the game early in the third with a field goal before taking its first lead of the game with a one yard plunge by Terrence Upshaw. Texas State hit a field goal to make the score 17-13 in the fourth. Another Mountaineer field goal brought the game to its final 20-13 score.
It’s still early, but Appalachian State’s offense wasn’t extremely sharp. The Mountaineers tallied up just 283 yards in the game. Texas State, on the other hand, had 385 yards of offense. Williams had his best game of the year thus far, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 260 yards.
The Bobcats will host a tough UTSA squad next week before hitting the road and taking on the Wyoming Cowboys. Appalachian State has a monster home game this week against Wake Forest before a key conference battle with New Mexico State.
New Mexico State 24
The Trojans left New Mexico State with a big conference win over the Aggies on Saturday. New Mexico State fought to the finish but ultimately fell just short at home. For a full recap of this game, click here.
Out of Conference- The Good
South Alabama 45
Alabama A&M 0
South Alabama nabbed its first win of the season against Alabama A&M and worked out many offensive kinks in the process. Quarterback Dallas Davis was 9/12 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. A multitude of running backs were used as the Jaguars totaled 158 rushing yards as a team. The Jags put up one of the Sun Belt’s best Yards Per Six Points (YP6P) performances of the season thus far with 55.1 YP6P.
We’ll learn a lot more about this team next week when South hosts the Vandals of Idaho next week.
Arkansas State 48
Arkansas Pine Bluff 3
After a week off, the Red Wolves added a check to the win column with the win over the Lions. Arkansas State seemed to learn from its losing performance against Central Arkansas last year, though UCA is much better than UAPB. Quarterback Justice Hansen lit up the Jonesboro skies with 336 passing yards and five touchdowns. The Red Wolves defense was particularly opportunistic, forcing five turnovers.
Following a loss to a power five school and then a win over an FCS school, Arkansas State will take on SMU on the road this week in a key non-conference bout.
Out of Conference- The Bad
Southern Mississippi 28
Louisiana Monroe 17
The Warhawks got a poor showing from its quarterbacks Cole Evans and Garrett Smith, who combined to complete 11 of 27 passes for 112 yards. Evans, however, did run the football well, gaining 90 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Running back Derrick Gore led the team with 96 rushing yards. The Kwadra Griggs led Golden Eagles were too much for Monroe’s defense. Griggs threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns while Ito Smith accounted for 232 yards of offense.
Monroe and rival Lafayette will square off this week in both team’s first conference game of the year.
Texas A&M 45
Louisiana Lafayette 21
The Rajin’ Cajuns held a 21-14 lead at halftime following a three-touchdown second quarter. That lead quickly diminished on the other side of the half as the Aggies rattled off 31 unanswered points. Running back Trey Ragas made a strong showing with 93 rushing yards on just 14 carries. A freshman running back putting up those numbers against an SEC team is a good sign for Cajun fans.
Both Monroe and Lafayette are looking to separate from each other within the conference this week as one team hopes to move ahead of the other in our power ranking.
Coastal Carolina 23
UAB jumped out to a big lead and the Chanticleers were not able to complete the comeback in time. For a full recap of this game, click here.
Western Michigan 37
Idaho took a 28-19 lead into the fourth quarter and then promptly fell apart. Western Michigan scored 18 points in the final 15 minutes of the game to avoid the upset. The Vandals got solid production from their running backs, with Aaron Duckworth and Isaiah Saunders combining for 162 yards on the ground. Idaho’s strong showing is due in part to the front seven’s ability to hold Western Michigan running back Jamauri Bogan to 47 yards on 17 carries.
We’ll find out if this Idaho team is the same nine-win team as it was last season when it travels to Mobile to take on South Alabama this week.
Penn State 56
Georgia State 0
Well, there isn’t much to discuss here. The only real positive was the play of running back Taz Bateman, who had 100 rushing yards on 29 rushes. The Panthers were actually somewhat productive on offense, gaining 320 yards and converting on 55 percent of their third down attempts. Five turnovers, however, killed any momentum Georgia State could muster.
Georgia State will get a chance to win its first game on a road contest against the Charlotte 49ers. This game is a must win for the Panthers if they want a shot at six wins on the season.